The Washington Post

Poll watcher: Libya cheers revolution; Americans hesitant on Syria, Iran

Libyans are overwhelmingly positive and optimistic about their lives and their country in a new survey by Oxford Research International. Libya is upbeat about its political system, especially the National Transition Council (NTC), as the country approaches the one-year anniversary of the revolution that ousted Moammar Gaddafi from power.

Big challenges persist. The highly popular NTC is struggling to keep disparate tribal militias in line -- infighting recently resulted in 17 deaths in the southern town of Jufra. Libyans are widely distrusting of each other, with eight in 10 saying they must be “very careful in dealing with people.”

Many Libyans recognize U.S. aid in ousting Gaddafi, but they give much more credit to France and Qatar. Nearly nine in 10 Libyans say France played a major role in removing the old regime; over seven in 10 say this of Qatar while just under half credit Britain or the U.S. Only 7 percent pick the U.S. as the country that helped the most to oust Gaddafi’s regime.

The survey was conducted in-person among a random sample of 2,087 Libyans over age 15 in all 22 geographical districts “Shabiya.”

Americans comfortable on Syria sidelines – More than seven in 10 Americans (73 percent) say the U.S. has no responsibility to try to stop fighting between government and anti-government groups in Syria, in a CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday. The sentiment crosses partisan lines, and reflects the public’s general lack of enthusiasm for foreign intervention, even those that boast positive results. Half the public says countries other than the U.S. have a responsibility to stop fighting in Syria.

Public still prefers diplomatic efforts on Iran – As Iran touted significant advancements toward producing nuclear fuel, six in 10 Americans in the CNN poll still back economic and diplomatic efforts to shut down its nuclear program, while about one in six support military action “right now.”

A new poll by the Pew Research Center asks a different question, resulting in potentially different conclusions. Asked to pick between priorities, Americans by 2 to 1 say it’s more important to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons than to avoid military conflict.

President Obama and U.S. allies have raised the pressure on Iran with economic sanctions, though Obama said he believes Israel has not decided whether to take military action to stop Iran’s nuclear efforts. If Israel were to attack Iran, about half of Americans say the U.S. should stay neutral in the Pew poll, while roughly four in 10 say the U.S. should support Israel’s action. Only 5 percent recommend opposing Israel under that scenario.

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Scott Clement is a survey research analyst for The Washington Post. Scott specializes in public opinion about politics, election campaigns and public policy.


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